Curatorial Internship – Cornwall’s Regimental Museum (Bodmin)

This is an entry-level position designed to provide hands-on work experience.  Working alongside the museum’s experienced management team, the Curatorial Intern will assist with;  

  1. The care, management and documentation of the museum collection 
  2. Making the collection more relevant and interesting for a wider audience through on-site displays, exhibitions and digital content. The intern will benefit from a training programme and will be part of a peer network of curatorial interns based at other Cornwall Museums Partnership museums. 

The intern training programme will build skills and confidence in exhibition-making, interpretation, conservation, collections management, learning programmes and marketing.

Salary: £17,000 pro rata (= £12,750 for 9 months) + 4% employer’s pension contribution

Hours: 37.5 per week includes some flexible working evenings / weekends

Leave: 20 days pro rata plus statutory bank holidays

Term: 9 months fixed term

Full details of the role and how to apply can be found at this link: cornwalls-regimentalmuseum.org/job-opportunity-curatorial-intern-paid/

Shortlisted applicants will be notified by 13th November when full details of the interview will be provided. Interviews will be held on 21st or 22nd November. These may be carried out via video link if you are unable to attend in person due to distance or financial constraints – Start date is Monday 13th January

This internship is part funded by Cultivator; a project supported by European Structural and Investment Funds, HM Government, Arts Council England and Cornwall Council, as well as the John Ellerman Foundation and Cornwall Council, as part of a Cornwall Museums Partnership programme.

Curatorial Internship – Wheal Martyn Clay Works (St. Austell)

Wheal Martyn is an accredited independent museum on the edge of St. Austell in Cornwall. The museum which is set within two former Victorian clay works preserves and shares the heritage of Cornwall’s significant china clay mining industry and is actively working to broaden its audiences and increase access to its collection. This internship is part funded by Cultivator; a project supported by European Structural and Investment Funds, HM Government, Arts Council England and Cornwall Council, as well as the John Ellerman Foundation and Cornwall Council, as part of a Cornwall Museums Partnership programme.

Working alongside an experienced member of staff, this post will assist with the care and management of the museum collection and share aspects of the collection and the stories they hold with a wider audience through on site displays and digital media.

Based at the museum on a day-to-day basis, the intern will be assisting with a number of collections projects including collections documentation, display, interpretation, digital and community engagement. The intern will support the museum to implement its Conservation and Documentation plans.

The post holder will also benefit from an individual training plan and budget, including trips to galleries and museums and specialist talks. Through Cornwall Museums Partnership the intern will be able to contribute to and benefit from a peer network of other curatorial interns in Cornwall. The internship will have responsibility for developing a project based on their own career aims, to be agreed with the museum team.

This role is an entry-level position designed to provide hands on work experience in a range of museum activities and events, often working with the general public. Although this post does not require a degree the candidate should be prepared to research and write in different formats, this could also suit a graduate wishing to gain experience. However, we welcome all backgrounds and are interested in your potential to develop as a curator or museum practitioner within the cultural sector in Cornwall.

 

Job Title: Curatorial Intern

Based at: Wheal Martyn Clay Works

Salary: £17,000 + 3% pension (eligible after three months) pro rata and essential travel allowance

Hours: 37.5 per week

Leave: 23 days leave + statutory bank holidays pro rata

Term: 9 months

 

For a detailed job description and application form visit www.wheal-martyn.com/about-us/vacancies/

Closing date for applications: 12 midnight Friday 8 November 2019

Applications can be emailed to Ernie Shepherd at recruitment@swlakestrust.org.uk

Interviews will be held week commencing 18 November 2019

Start date: Monday 13 January 2020

Curatorial Internship – Museum of Cornish Life (Helston)

We are offering an exciting opportunity to join our friendly and dedicated team as Curatorial Intern. Working with a small staff team (Director, Community Engagement Curator and Apprentice) and over 80 volunteers you will get to experience all aspects of museum work. The focus of the role will be assisting with a range of collections projects including collections documentation, exhibitions, digital and community engagement.

The intern will be supported by an individual training plan and budget to allow you to attend training and undertake study trips to museums/galleries. Through Cornwall Museums Partnership you will benefit from and contribute to a peer network of other curatorial interns in Cornwall. This role is an entry-level position designed to provide hands on work experience in a range of museum activities. We welcome all backgrounds and are interested in your potential to develop.

This internship is part funded by Cultivator; a project supported by European Structural and Investment Funds, HM Government, Arts Council England and Cornwall Council, as well as the John Ellerman Foundation and Cornwall Council, as part of a Cornwall Museums Partnership programme.

Summary

Job Title:         Curatorial Intern

Based at:         Museum of Cornish Life, Market Place, Helston, Cornwall TR13 8TH

Salary:             £17,000 +4% pension and essential travel allowance pro rata

Hours:             37.5 per week (the post holder must be able to work Saturdays)

Leave:             25 days leave + statutory bank holidays pro rata

Term:              9 months (13 January – 12 September 2020)

 

Application

Closing Date:     15 November (5pm) 2019

Interview:           29 November 2019

Start Date:          13 January 2020

Apply:                  Email Annette MacTavish (director@museumofcornishlife.co.uk) with your CV and covering letter explaining how you meet the Personal Specification and what interests you about the opportunity to be a Curatorial Intern at the Museum of Cornish Life

 

Personal SpecificationEssential Desirable
Qualifications  
Degree or relevant experience in museum/gallery/heritage/cultural setting Yes
3 A Levels (or equivalent)Yes 
GCSE Maths and English at Grade C or 4 (or equivalent)Yes 
Experience & Knowledge   
Working/volunteering in a museum, gallery, cultural or historic venue or in a customer service roleYes 
Experience of volunteering or working with volunteersYes 
Research skillsYes 
Interest in the Museum of Cornish LifeYes 
Skills & Ability  
Excellent IT skills including use of Word, Excel and Social MediaYes 
Ability to multi-task with strong organisational skillsYes 
Team playerYes 
Commitment to learning and attending trainingYes 
Good communication skillsYes 

Fun Palaces 2019

October is not only the beginning of autumn, it’s also the month where for two days, communities and culture come together in a blur of creativity. Fun Palaces is an annual free weekend and campaign which ‘promotes culture at the heart of community and community at the heart of culture’. Using a combination of arts, craft, science, tech, digital, heritage and sports activities, Fun Palaces is led by local people for local people, giving the opportunity for skills and passions to be shared across the community. Fun Palaces really is a weekend to celebrate cultural democracy.

An abundance of workshops were held across the first weekend of October, including many of the museums in Cornwall who took part in this fantastic campaign. Carry on reading to hear from 7 Cornish museums on their Fun Palace experiences.

Museum of Cornish Life – Helston

Museum of Cornish Life Fun Palaces

Museum of Cornish Life decided upon a Space Art theme where the 1st Landewednack Brownies came to the museum and explored their new exhibition; Lizard Point Residency. Isobel King, Community Engagement Curator for Museum of Cornish life said how, ‘the exhibition celebrates the work created this year at the Lizard Point Residency, as part of a summer of celebration focussed around Goonhilly Earth Station. The Brownies explored the art works and then set about making their own art using the theme of space as their inspiration.

‘Some of the Brownies worked in teams to recycle cardboard to make two giant rockets which they named The Brownie 1000; others made their own spaceships, pictures of galaxies far away and pictures of what life from another planet would look like.’

If you would like to see the art work from this Fun Palaces weekend, the rockets will be on display at the museum as part of the exhibition until the end of the month.

Penlee House and Porthcurno Telegraph Museum

Penlee House Gallery and Museum, Telegraph Museum Porthcurno and Whole Again Communities worked in partnership with Treneere Team Spirit to deliver the Treneere Fun Palace at the Lescudjack Centre in Penzance.

The Fun Palace was created by the Treneere Team Spirit community group, where they had 65 participants take part from the local community.

Penlee House Gallery returned to the event this year, building on their brilliant previous partnership work with Treneere Team Spirit, and delivered a wonderful ‘Collage on Canvas’ hands on activity.

Telegraph Museum Porthcurno hosted ‘I spy treasures’ and ‘Circus skills’ which included cracking a code on pirate doubloons in a sandy treasure chest, juggling with devil sticks and plate spinning! Families were given a ‘I’m a PK star’ sticker and/or a pirate temporary tattoo after taking part.

Kay Dalton of Porthcurno Telegraph Museum said, ‘it was great for us as an organisation to be able to be a part of Fun Palaces for the first time. There was a lot to do and the weekend brought together the communities and really showed off what Fun Palaces is all about.’

‘Great partnership working!’  Treneere Team Spirit.

‘The whole event had such a buzzing, lovely vibe!’  Penlee House Gallery.

‘Children came back to redo our activities again and again, it was great to see how much time they spent having fun together.’  Telegraph Museum Porthcurno.

Wheal Martyn

Wheal Martyn Fun Palaces

Wheal Martyn’s Fun Palace event went incredibly well, with approximately 60 people attending, all of which were families. They had 7 Makers plus Gemma Martin, Education Officer of Wheal Martyn museum, running the activities all day.

There was a wonderful selection of activities on offer, including:

  • Zenology Doodling with Laura Martin from their regular Social Prescribing Arts and Crafts Group
  • Paper Journal Making with Ruth Hills
  • Clay Fun Palace Models with Lynne Simms and Suzy Johnson
  • Story Collections and porcelain figures for the Bucawdden Project and, with Zenna Tagney
  • Planting and gardening workshops with Tam Pemberton from Perennial Harvest
  • Great Biscuit Show Stopper biscuit decorating with Gemma Martin, Wheal Martyn

A great time was had and plenty of lovely feedback with one attendee saying, ‘a lovely idea, my two loved all the different things to do and enjoyed the clay making and biscuit decorating. We’ll be back for more Fun days like this!’ Another person loved it so much that they already can’t wait for the next one, ‘lovely idea, so much to do, friendly atmosphere, something for everyone.  Please do another one soon!’

Falmouth Art Gallery and Library

Fun Palace in Falmouth Art Gallery was a collection of different experiences, run for the Community by Community groups. If you felt creative you could create poems with the Write Café, make your own woolly planet with Cornwool, try a Camel costume from Miracle Theatre, join the Global Cardboard challenge with the engineers from the University of Exeter or the LEGO club in the library, drawing in VR with INTERANIMA, make your own electronic textile bracelets with Touch Craft or have a go at weaving.

If music is your thing, you were able to play bells with Perran Rebells, improvise a song with SING! Choir or create electronic instruments with CO:NOISE project. You could relax in their boardgames café with cakes, tea and coffee from Falmouth Fairtrade. Source FM Community radio was also there interviewing all the community groups involved. It was a great day and one they can’t wait to repeat soon!

Cornwall’s Regimental Museum – Bodmin Keep

At Bodmin Keep, the theme was ‘Building, Making, Playing’, a theme that extended across the whole town, with 8 Fun Palace sites and one roaming Fun Palace. At the Keep, 12 makers produced theatrical wounds and gave reflexology. There was also badge and pom-pom making, engineering challenges with the local Cadets and healthy eating activities with Cornwall Council, as well as a whole host of games to play. There was a quiz to complete, part of a town wide Fun Palaces quiz, encouraging people to visit all the venues over the weekend.

Verity Anthony, Visitor Experience and Collections Manager of the museum said, ‘the day went fantastically, and participants and makers alike had a great time. We’re already thinking ahead to next year!’

Royal Cornwall Museum – Truro

The Royal Cornwall Museum had a plethora of different activities for people to explore, discover and create. Sophie Meyer, Marketing Digital Lead for the museum said, ‘you really felt the community spirit on Fun Palace day. A great range of people who had never been to the Museum before, suddenly spending hours exploring all the different activities on offer. It’s fantastic for the local community to come together and share skills and it’s a joy to host.’

The Royal Cornwall Museum had all sorts of activities such as;

  • Shallal 2 Dance performance inspired by their Face to Face exhibition. Be inspired and check out their video!
  • Lithium extraction and geology games with Cornish Lithium
  • Radio broadcasting with Pirate FM
  • Learning to sing with Hall for Cornwall
  • Learning Cornish
  • Gold Panning

 

If you’d like to take part in or host a Fun Palace weekend, please head to the Fun Palaces website for all the details. The next weekend of action is the 3rd and 4th October 2020.

 

– Jody Woolcock

Marketing and Impact Officer, Cornwall Museums Partnership

The Firm Foundations Programme

Firm Foundations

The Firm Foundations Programme is a four-day masterclass for people about to embark on a capital development project in the heritage sector.

Firm Foundations offers delegates the opportunity to learn from respected professionals, to have candid and exclusive insights into the industry and how it works, from procurement and project management to risk management and contracting.

Delegates will be able to share ideas and challenges in a supportive, confidential environment, and draw support from experts and peers.

Our team of professionals with extensive experience in developing and delivering heritage projects, will show you how to prepare, plan, deliver and sustain a successful capital project.

In the below film, Elisa Harris of Krowji, who took part in Firm Foundations last year (2018), talks about her experience of the programme and how it helped her take on and deliver a more effective and impactful capital project.

For more information and to book your space on the 2019/20 Firm Foundations programme, please click this link;  www.cornwallmuseumspartnership.co.uk/firm-foundations or email clare@cornwallmuseumspartnership.org.uk

 

Emerging Voices

Becki and Katie

The Emerging Voices bursary supports museum volunteers or emerging professionals to undertake training, research or placement opportunities that enhance their skills and bring new benefits to their host museum.

Becki Brattin and Katie Bunnell decided to apply for the bursary following their experience as Citizen Curators at Falmouth Art Gallery. They have been awarded the bursary to continue developing their project, “Gut Reaction” which focuses on audience responses to the Margaret Whitford Bequest, a collection of 48 contemporary prints and a sculpture acquired by the gallery through the Artfund.

The collection is remarkably vibrant and graphically strong and while individual pieces have been on display, relatively little is known about the provenance of the collection as a whole. Through their research on Margaret as the source of these collected works, Becki and Katie have discovered there are another 25 pieces located in 8 museums and galleries in the UK.

For this post Becki and Katie have answered three key questions:

Why did you want to continue your “Gut Reaction” Citizen Curators project? 

K: With the continuing support of Falmouth Art Gallery, the Emerging Voices Bursary will enable us to pursue research threads we have discovered through the Citizen Curators project, visit the other pieces in Margaret’s collection, find out what we can about their provenance and to chase stories as they emerge.

For us, the idea that it is possible to have a felt, physical reaction to an artwork is fundamental to enabling everyone to respond to art in their own way. From what we have read about Margaret we understand that this was her approach to choosing art and have used this as the basis for our “Gut Reaction” project. We would like to continue to develop this idea through the creation of the digital exhibit and for workshops that connect to it.

B: Our initial Citizen Curators project took quite a natural progression after learning more about Margaret once we spoke to some of her friends about the type of person she was within her professional and personal life. We are now faced with learning a whole lot more information about Margaret’s further collection which is spread around the UK. It seemed very obvious to try and bring an awareness of Margaret’s other pieces together, in this case through a digital experience – building a portrait of a female Cornish collector and celebrating the collection in its entirety.

What are your hopes and expectations for this project?

B: I’m hoping we can do the collection justice and bring about a beautiful digital exhibition with a very ambitious idea of perhaps, bringing some or all pieces together for a physical exhibition (one day!) Also, I will be keen to explore how we will be able to bring to the surface a little about who a female collector is? Is it important, and if so, how does this stance affect galleries today or previously?

We are expecting to document our journey within the project through the use of blogs, vlogs, Podcasts and Instagram. Hopefully building an informative and enjoyable journey for all to evaluate.

K: I think that the Emerging Voices Bursary opens the possibility of seeing Margaret’s dispersed collection, hopefully bringing it together as a digital exhibit that can be shared with many. Personally, I am really interested in trying to see it from her perspective, to understand a bit more about her motivations as a collector and how this relates to her work as a feminist philosopher, and one who started life in a Methodist community in Cornwall.

Why do you think it will be useful to Falmouth Art Gallery?

K: I think it is a great opportunity to try out new ways of creating a digital exhibit, using the story of the collector as a way in to seeing this dispersed collection as a whole. We would like to develop the digital exhibit as a tool that enables audiences to think about and respond to the artworks and the business of collecting from their own perspectives.

B: Falmouth Art Gallery is very fortunate to be the custodians of such a beautiful and vibrant set of prints from the Margaret Whitford Bequest; we like to think that our project will help to raise the profile of the bequest and give the community and beyond the chance to interact and access the collection as a whole, leaving a fantastic digital collection tool for all to explore alongside more extensive history files for Falmouth Art Gallery.

 

– Becki Brattin and Katie Bunnell

Falmouth Art Gallery

10 Tips For Making Collaborative Leadership Work

Collaborative Leadership

“Collaborative leadership needs people who can be open, flexible and responsive.”

For the last four years, Cornwall Museums Partnership (CMP) has been helping museums across the county become more open and connected to the people they serve. We set out with a clear aim to effect some fundamental changes by creating a collaborative culture within our own charity and across the museum sector in Cornwall. As an infrastructure charity that doesn’t run or own any museums, influencing ‘beyond authority’ is core to our approach. We believe that the power lies in the team.

Emmie Kell, CEO of Cornwall Museums Partnership, has recently written an article sharing ten things she learned about creating a collaborative culture over the last few years.

 

Read: Collaborative Leadership

 

Emmie Kell

Author – Emmie Kell

Published – Arts Professional 12/09/2019

Cultural Democracy and Cultural Rights in Cornwall

What are our museums doing to respond to calls for greater cultural democracy and cultural rights in Cornwall? One of our major cultural democracy programmes is Citizen Curators. In partnership with the Curatorial Research Centre and funded by the Museums Association’s Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund, the programme has two clear aims.

The first, to begin to democratise our museum collections by narrowing the gap between Cornish collections and communities; the second, to provide the start of an alternative pathway into museum work. We first piloted Citizen Curators at Royal Cornwall Museum as part of our Arts Council-supported Change Makers programme in 2017/18. Currently, seven NPO funded museums are taking part in the current three-year programme which offers 35 free places on this free curatorial training course.

Tehmina Goskar, Programme Leader, has recently written about how Citizen Curators was developed for Museum-iD magazine, and showcases some of the results and impact so far.

Read: Citizen Curators. An Experiment in Cultural Democracy.

Bright Sparks of 2018

Cornwall Museums Partnership and FEAST are challenging museums and artists to work together to generate original ideas for bringing more and different people into the museums of Cornwall to enjoy Cornwall’s unique heritage. For the third year, we are offering a joint small grants fund to enable the best ideas to be tested and delivered.

To get a better idea of the diverse range of projects that have enjoyed Bright Sparks support, here are the museums and artists who were successful last year.

Isles of Scilly Student Publication

The Islands’ Partnership worked with the Isles of Scilly Museum and the Five Islands Academy to produce a publication for visitors using selected artefacts as a starting point to explore local history.

Students visited the museum and interviewed local trustees and experts to investigate the islands’ rich heritage and changing fortunes over the past four thousand years.

The resulting guide for visiting families includes a young persons’ perspective on Scilly’s past, reflections on growing up on Cornwall’s islands and suggested activities linked to local culture and heritage.

Wish You Were Here

‘Wish You Were Here’ took as its starting point the idea of providing a winter escape for the residents of two nursing homes in Helston and the Lizard.

The Museum of Cornish Life worked with artist Susanna Webster, who brought to the project her creativity and experience working with residents in care homes, memory cafes and community settings in Cornwall. Together they designed a series of virtual visits to the museum using FaceTime. On these visits the residents were able to explore the museum and build relationships with the staff and volunteers without needing to travel.

This project allowed visitors who wouldn’t normally enjoy the museum to do so, and as a result of taking part, the nursing home residents became more comfortable using FaceTime and Skype to communicate with their own families. The museum purchased an iPad which they continue to use to help visitors engage with their collection.

The Looe Diehards

This project focussed on a little-known period in Looe’s history, the establishment in 1803 of the East and West Looe Volunteer Artillery during the Napoleonic era. The project wanted to remember this difficult time when the towns were despoiled of its trade by the threat of war and how the community came together.

The Old Guildhall Museum and Gaol worked with Sue Field, a local maker, community artist, and storyteller to help bring this story to life through the interplay of puppets as exhibits and animated characters. Archive material was used to write the stories of the Looe Diehard men, exquisite puppets of Captain Thomas Bond and Fisherman volunteer Pengelly were hand crafted and the museum’s team of volunteers were trained in their operation.

Building audiences and providing engaging and meaningful interactions is essential for the future of the museum and its collections. Through projects like this, The Old Guildhall Museum and Gaol can continue to promote and engage people with their local heritage.

Redefining the Museum Label: New Voices

Falmouth Art Gallery has been working with artist Felicity Tattersall, whose drawing practice is inspired by hidden narratives in museums and archives, and Curator Charlotte Davis to deliver this exciting public engagement project.

A variety of community groups have been given the opportunity to learn about the function and use of museum labels. During these workshops they have been invited to create their own imaginative and experimental museum labels using unusual materials, creative writing, drawing and digital media. This project is about rethinking how people from the local community connect with the work that is in the Gallery.

The project will culminate in a public exhibition at Falmouth Art Gallery, a shared learning digital event and an open call for everyone to come and create their own label for a piece in the collection.

Remembering People from the Past

This is a collaborative project between Lostwithiel Museum and creative researcher Amanda Davidge, using the museum archives and collection to discover more about lives of important people from Lostwithiel’s past.

To begin with the team decided to research the fascinating life of Frances Hext (1819-1896) who had lived in the town and written a book Memorials of Lostwithiel (and of Restormell):collected and contributed. Amanda ran workshops with the museum volunteers to create assemblage memory boxes, family trees and journals to illustrate her life in a large display.

Following this, family history workshops will be offered to the wider community who wish to investigate the town’s history as well as their personal family history and create their own ‘story boxes’.

Apply Today

We are looking for genuine innovation and collaboration between the artist(s) and museum, and for ideas which would appeal to a broad range of the community. We are inviting proposals for creative projects which spark interest in what museums have to offer: we want more people interested in their heritage and more people doing or experiencing something creative.

We are offering a number of small grants of up to £2,500. The project must involve some form of tangible activity or event with which the community can get involved.

Selection of successful projects will be made by a panel of FEAST and Cornwall Museum Partnership directors and a member of each organisation’ s board or advisory group.  The deadline for applications is 27th October 2019 and decisions will be announced shortly afterwards.

To apply, please download and complete the application form below.

For more information contact celine@cornwallmuseumspartnership.org.uk  Tel: 01209500750 or  Emma Leaper feast@creativekernow.org.uk   Tel: 01209312502.

 

– Emma Leaper

FEAST Programme Administrator

Pride at The Royal Cornwall Museum

Royal Cornwall Museum at Cornwall Pride 2018

The Royal Cornwall Museum Pride Project is a rolling programme which started in 2017. It strives to uncover neglected heritage stories of LGBTQ Cornwall and is an integral platform offering queer events across the Cornish community.

Evidence of sexuality and gender fluidity have often been neglected in history. This is not through lack of evidence in which diversity existed, but representative of how political views can shape the histories being communicated. As a result, queer stories were often ‘straightened out’ or smoothed over, which meant an open discussion of sexuality in history didn’t exist.

The Museums ongoing pride project began with attending Cornwall Pride in 2017. This was followed by a year-long research project into queer history in Cornwall, culminating in a BBC Radio Cornwall series where different queer figures from Cornish history were discussed in the run up to pride 2018.

Publicising these historical queer stories from Cornish history challenges the heteronormativity of historiography, as many of the historical stories discussed in the series are well known local people who have been detached from their queer identity, such as Daphne Du Maurier. It is vital to remember the importance of championing these stories and to offer them a platform of validating Cornish history as queer history, as prejudice is still prevalent in many forms today.

LGBTQ Pride attendees with Royal Cornwall Museum

At Cornwall Pride in 2018 we took along a video recorder and asked attendees why pride in Cornwall was important to them. This contemporary collecting created a snapshot of queer identity which has now been accessioned into the Museums’ permanent collections. This was a significant step for the Royal Cornwall Museum as previously, nothing in the collection (a collection of over 500,000 objects) had been noted as LGBTQ. Despite a 200-year long presence in Cornwall, 2018 was the first time an openly queer object was accessioned.

In 2019, the Museum will be promoting gender fluidity in Cornish History where it will be exploring the stories of Gluck, Samuel Foote, Marlow Moss and many more.

Some may see the museum’s presence at Cornwall Pride as unexpected. The RCM is the first Museum of its time, in Cornwall, to attend Cornwall Pride. Statements such as ‘I did not expect the Royal Cornwall Museum to be at Pride’ and ‘I didn’t think the Museum would be the kind of place to support us’ were often heardThis is exactly the sort of appearance the RCM and historical institutions across the UK are endeavouring to break free from; the National Trust took a big step in exploring queer stories associated with their properties and the V&A have LGBTQ tours of the galleries.

Museums are not intended to be a neutral space and are there to inform and be open to interpretation, acting for and with everyone. The Museum is working hard on celebrating diversity by actively expanding the programme to become more inclusive, and by working with community groups. The Royal Cornwall Museum’s Pride project sends a message of acceptance, it allows the museum to welcome everybody and allows people to interact with their heritage in a way they possibly couldn’t or wouldn’t have before.

Pride at Royal Cornwall Museum 

This August the Museum will host a week-long pride event featuring:

  • An evening with local drag act Roxie Moron on Wednesday 17 August.
  • A talk by Dan Vo, who founded the award-winning volunteer-led LGBTQ Tours at V&A, London and developed Bridging Binaries for University of Cambridge Museums. He works with museums and galleries to shine a light on objects which explore gender and sexual identities through a queer lens.

If you would like to get involved in the Museums Pride project, please apply to be a Citizen Curator with the Museum, as part of the programme will support the Pride project.

Read more on The Hidden Histories of Cornwall’s Queer Community here!

– Sophie Meyer
Marketing and Digital Lead, Royal Cornwall Museum

Spotlight on: Nikita Brown from Wheal Martyn Clay Works

In the latest installment of our ‘Spotlight on’ blog posts, we hear from Nikita Brown, Exhibition and Engagement Officer at Wheal Martyn Clay Works near St. Austell, about the importance of accessibility in museums.

I believe that museums should act as community hubs, where all members of the community feel confident and safe to voice their opinions and take ownership of the museum and its collections. Improving accessibility is one way I can ensure that all visitors feel welcome at Wheal Martyn and have a fantastic museum experience.

So, what have we been doing at Wheal Martyn?

As Exhibition and Engagement Officer, my first priority was to improve the overall access to the museum for a general visit. Making small changes to the museum has allowed staff to work with more community groups and enhance the visitor experience for those with additional needs, whether this is creating visual stories for people with autism and anxiety, or simply changing how a gate opens to make it more wheelchair accessible.

At Wheal Martyn we have been working with partner organisations to seek expert advice and ensure our accessible information is easy to use. We are fortunate to be one of around twenty heritage destinations taking part in Heritage Ability’s, Heritage Lottery Funded project, which looks to improve accessibility and inclusivity in historical sites. Working in partnership with Heritage Ability, the museum now has a new Easy Read Guide making the site’s information easy to understand for those with learning difficulties, as well as a digital British Sign Language (BSL) tour of the site which can be viewed on YouTube or via a tablet at the museum.

I also received training from Heritage Ability on disability and deaf awareness which I have been able to replicate with other museum staff. We are fortunate to have fantastic, friendly staff at Wheal Martyn who are always willing to go above and beyond to improve visitor’s experience. The training has equipped them with relevant knowledge about how best to help all visitors, regardless of disability or need. It also highlighted the benefits of making small adaptations, such as having hearing loops, which we purchased two of to go in the reception and café.

Becoming an autism-friendly museum

I’m passionate about making attractions and historical sites more autism-friendly, so this was another one of my top priorities when I started working at Wheal Martyn. I started by creating two visual stories of the museum. Visual stories use images and words to show visitors with autism the layout of the museum and what to expect before visiting. An example being how the café can sometimes be busy and have strong smells. Visual stories are really easy to do, so I would encourage all historical sites to give it a go. Once I had finished the visual stories, I then had them checked by Spectrum, who specialise in Autistic Spectrum Disorders, to make sure they were useful for this group of people. I would really recommend seeking expert opinion where possible, as their advice was incredibly helpful and even though I was often on the right lines, it was great to get this confirmed by professionals.

With guidance from Spectrum, I created a quiet space at Wheal Martyn with comfy sofas and bean bags to allow people an area to chill out, if the museum gets too overwhelming for them. Visitors with sensory disorders can also use our sensory backpack, which includes ear defenders, fiddle toys and a sensory game. It’s great to see these bags being used around the site and we have received a lot of positive feedback from our visitors who have enjoyed using them.

A picture of Wheal Martyn's autism-friendly sensory bag.

In March 2019, Wheal Martyn held its first relaxed opening session which allows families to explore the museum at a quieter pace. Although only a few families attended the first session, the impact the session had on one of the families was huge. It gave them the confidence to return to Wheal Martyn with their extended family during the Easter holidays, giving them an opportunity to enjoy being together as a family.  The relaxed sessions take place every quarter, with our next sessions taking place on Saturday 19 October and Saturday 18 January.

Encouraging social group meetings at the museum

With help from our fantastic, committed volunteers, we have started running two new social prescribing groups held at the museum. Arts and Craft for Health which runs every Tuesday morning and a Sensory Garden group which will launch in September. Both groups aim to give those struggling with mental illness or other long term health conditions, the opportunity to develop their confidence and skills in a safe and friendly environment.

The Arts and Craft group consists of participants bringing along their own craft which they would like to work on during the sessions and they have the option of asking the coordinator for help and advice. What I have personally enjoyed witnessing is the participants sharing their craft skills with each other. I am always amazed at how caring and supportive these groups are and I have definitely learned lots of new craft skills from the participants myself!

People taking park in Wheal Martyn's Arts and Crafts for Health group activities.

We have artists regularly holding specialised workshops with the participants, so they have the opportunity to learn a new skill and explore the museum in a new way. Recently, the group has taken part in a sound workshop with artist Justin Wiggan and have even made their own bricks with the Brickfields project (a Whitegold initiative). As Wheal Martyn has an extensive brick collection, it was great to explore these stories in a new way with the participants and everyone was pleased with their brick designs.

The impact the sessions have on the participants is clear to see; confidence is growing, friendships have been formed and the group is always filled with laughter and support for each other. One of the participants who hadn’t drawn since he was at school, has enjoyed the sessions so much, that he has started up his own group on a different day. We also have a Memory Café which meets every second Monday of the month for people suffering from memory loss and their carers. The group consists of a range of informal arts, crafts and reminiscence activities, as well as a nice chat and cuppa!

Looking to the future

Wheal Martyn has a lot more planned over the next few months. Whether it is working with the Sensory Trust to create a sensory map and bespoke workshops for children with additional needs, or trialing live streaming of events to make them more accessible for those who can’t get to the museum. Perhaps the most exciting has to be the opening of our new facilities in April 2020, as part of the Clay Works project which will include a new gallery for temporary exhibitions, a new learning and activity space and a new permanent exhibition on the ‘Transport of China Clay’. The new improvements will also include a lift to access the exhibition space, meaning that more areas of Wheal Martyn will become accessible for wheelchairs.

I aim to embed accessibility in all areas of my work which includes temporary exhibitions where I try to ensure that all senses are stimulated through having a range of different interactives. I think my main learning from the last year is the importance of working with partner organisations for help and advice. Everyone I have contacted has been happy to help and are incredibly passionate about making more sites accessible. If you would like any more information about the projects mentioned above, then I am more than happy to share my learning with other museums.

– Nikita Brown
Exhibition and Engagement Officer
, Wheal Martyn Clay Works
https://www.wheal-martyn.com/